Why Has My Cat Stopped Self-Grooming?

Close-Up Of Cat

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Cats are notorious for being neat and clean. They groom themselves quite often. In fact, on average, cats clean themselves during half of their waking hours.

So if your cat has suddenly stopped self-grooming, this can be a sign that something is very wrong, and they may need to go to the vet right away.

Here are a few things you should know about why your cat might not be self-grooming as much as they should.

Signs That Your Cat Isn’t Grooming Properly



There are quite a few telltale signs that your cat isn’t grooming properly, according to Village Gate Animal Hospital.

First, you may notice matted fur or a greasier, harsher-feeling coat.

Your cat may also have food on their cheeks, or their feet may have litter stuck to them because they’ve stopped cleaning their paws.

They may even smell a little if they’re not keeping certain areas, like their backside, properly cleaned.

Furthermore, you probably have a good sense of your cat’s usual behaviors. If your cat is noticeably spending less time grooming, it’s probably a sign that something has changed. You know your cat, so one of the best things you can do is pay attention when something is out of the ordinary.

Pain Can Cause Cats To Stop Grooming

One of the leading reasons why cats stop grooming is pain.

Pain can limit a cat’s movements or flexibility, making it harder to self-groom.

A lot of things can cause this type of pain, ranging from arthritis in older cats to a sprained joint or a broken bone. Cats can start showing signs of their age between seven and ten years, and most have senior cat issues by the time they’re twelve years old.

If your cat is showing signs of pain, whether from an injury, arthritis, or other condition, make a vet appointment. They may be able to prescribe medication or lifestyle changes to address these issues and relieve your cat’s pain symptoms.

Once you manage your cat’s pain, you may start to see them groom themselves again.

Dental Problems Can Be An Issue

A Maine Coon cat gets his teeth brushed. Cat shows teeth and tooth brush.

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If your cat is having dental problems, this can also have a serious impact on their grooming ability.

If their jaw hurts, they’re not going to want to lick their fur to self-groom.

They may also be drooling or eating less if they have dental problems. If you see these signs in addition to a lack of self-grooming, you should get their teeth checked out by your vet.

Your veterinarian may want you to have your cat’s teeth professionally cleaned, prescribe dietary changes, or advise you on how to brush your cat’s teeth at home.

Obese Or Overweight Cats Might Have A Tougher Time Grooming

An overweight cat might simply be too chubby to be able to reach all the parts of their body that need grooming.

If this is the problem, you’ll need to help your cat lose weight and brush them in the meantime. It will be your responsibility to meet the grooming needs they can’t meet on their own until they get back in shape.

Some pet stores sell specialty wipes made to use on your cat to help keep them clean if they’re having trouble grooming.

Make an appointment with your vet. They can determine if there’s an underlying medical issue causing your cat to gain weight.

If there isn’t an underlying cause of your cat’s unhealthy weight, your vet will advise you on dietary changes and ways to make sure your cat gets more exercise.

The Special Case Of A Matted Backside

Cat hiding under a rug.

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This isn’t exactly the most pleasant topic to talk about, but sometimes a cat may appear to stop grooming the fur around their backside. This means it can get matted and really gross.

Sometimes, an overweight cat just can’t reach their bum to clean it. Cats with long fur are also in danger of getting tangles and mats more easily, and they may not be able to undo the matting on their own.

If the fur around your cat’s bum is matted, don’t take scissors to the mess because you might cut your cat’s skin if they react.

Instead, see if you can get the fur shaved safely the next time you’re at the vet or groomer. But don’t delay taking care of the problem; a matted backside can cause health issues–like infections, infestations, and skin conditions–if it’s not shaved.

Whatever you may think is causing your cat to stop grooming herself, you should definitely get them checked out by a veterinarian right away. Lack of grooming can be a sign of a bigger health issue, so don’t delay taking your kitty to the vet.

Once you find out the source of the problem, your vet may recommend that you start brushing your cat regularly to help them get back in the habit of grooming. Many cats love being brushed, so this can help build a stronger bond between you and your cat.

Has your cat ever stopped self-grooming? What was the cause, and how did you treat it? Let us know in the comments below!